Entrepreneurship minor celebrates 68 graduates, sends 92 interns around the world

May 9, 2010

Tom Darden, keynote speakerMichelle Poulos addresses the crowdTrip Smith speaks to the audience about his experience in the minor

Chapel Hill, N.C. — Sixty-eight students graduating in 18 majors celebrated the completion of the entrepreneurship minor offered by the department of economics in UNC's College of Arts and Sciences at a May 9 ceremony.

The keynote speaker was Tom Darden, CEO of Cherokee Investment Partners and member of the working group for the minor in entrepreneurship. Graduating seniors Trip Smith and Michelle Poulos, both of whom received bachelor of arts degrees in journalism and mass communications, also spoke at the ceremony.

"The most important thing about the entrepreneurship minor is the passion with which everyone involved with the minor pursues the causes and ideas they care about," Smith told attendees. "I think life has a way of taking away that passion over time, so I encourage everyone here to hold on to it and keep going after what they care about."

"The entrepreneurship minor was one of the best decisions I made here at UNC," said Whitney Akers, who received a bachelor of arts in psychology. "The curriculum gave me the skills I would need to start my own venture and the environment is empowering and full of useful resources. I interned at Global Vaccines and I couldn't have had a better experience. Later when I started my job search, the entrepreneurship minor and the internship were the most popular topics in interviews. Employers were impressed with my passion for innovation and the critical thinking skills that I gained throughout the minor."

Entrepreneurship interns disperse throughout globe

As summer commences the entrepreneurship minor sends 92 undergrads to locations throughout the world to serve the minor's required internship.

"This internship program is a unique and important learning component for students enrolled in the minor in entrepreneurship. It provides students with the kind of real experiences that just cannot be reproduced in the classroom," Elizabeth Basnight, director of the internship program for the minor, said.

Twelve students will intern in Beijing through a study abroad program especially for students in the minor in entrepreneurship. Others will work in France, Kenya and Vietnam and across the United States, in Atlanta, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York City, Philadelphia and Washington D.C. Twenty-eight will work in the Research Triangle Region. Others will work in cities throughout North Carolina.

Charlie Sellew, Shruti Shah and Cameron Wardell will work at Frontline Solutions with UNC social entrepreneur-in-residence Micah Gilmer. Frontline interns will participate in research, project planning, proposal writing, scheduling, event planning and marketing. Frontline solutions helps individuals and institutions strategically manage change by building community, offering support to social change leaders and developing targeted research.

Justin Rosenthal will assist the chief executive officer of Builders of Hope with research and special projects focusing on the environmental, economic and social issues in cities being considered for expansion.

Paul LaBarbera will work at ESPN in market research. Other internships include work at arts organizations, biotechnology startups, financial institutions and health care facilities.

Students receive financial support for internships from several sources:

  • Phillips Ambassadors, UNC's largest study abroad scholarship program, will provide funding for Lauren Brown and Shivani Patel to study in Beijing. The program provides scholarships for up to 50 undergraduates annually to study abroad in more than 40 eligible programs throughout Asia.
  • The Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER) will fund Kyle Krasicky's internship in Beijing. CIBER fellowships provide $3,500 to cover the program costs plus $1,500 in travel support.
  • The N.C. Biotechnology Center and the minor in entrepreneurship are funding internships for Cody Blazek, Nirav Lakhani and Stuart Powell to work with biotech startups at First Flight Venture Center, a technology incubator in The Research Triangle Park.
  • The minor in entrepreneurship provides stipends for students interning at not-for-profits and some startup companies.


"I have loved working with these excited and engaged students this year and cannot wait to see the amazing things they accomplish this summer," Basnight said.

For more information on internship opportunities for companies and students in the minor, visit or call Elizabeth Basnight (919) 843.8824.